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Treatment of scurvy - historical background: A gross injustice done to dr. Maksim Nikolić-Miškovićev from Sr. Karlovci in the 19th century

Author(s): Maksimović Jovan

Journal: Medicinski Pregled
ISSN 0025-8105

Volume: 56;
Issue: 5-6;
Start page: 295;
Date: 2003;
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Keywords: scurvy + etiology + therapy + history | history of medicine | 19th century | ascorbic acid | Nobel prize

This paper reviews historical aspects regarding medical knowledge on scurvy vitamin C deficiency, and its etiological factors. This disease used to affect naval-crews on long lasting sea voyages, soldiers during times of war and the poor. Although efficient therapy of scurvy (fresh vegetables, lemon juice) was known in the mid-18th century, its etiology was not known. It was believed to be caused by the cold, moist winds, unhealthy evaporations malnutrition and it was called "alkaline disease". It was established that acid substances like lemon juice, had beneficial effects on the disease However, it was soon generally accepted that it was caused by deficient diet. In 1830, Dr. John Elliotson, Professor of Medicine at London University supported this opinion. In 1928, Albert Szent Gyordyi, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Szeged and Budapest Universities, isolated vitamin C from green pepper, vegetable proved to be rich with vitamin C. Due to this discovery, and some discoveries regarding biological processes, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology in 1937 Back in 1864, a military doctor in Belgrade, Dr. Maksim Nikolić-Miškovićev from Sremski Karlovci, wrote to Ministry of Defence of the Serbian Principality. He informed the authorities about a successful, quick and cheap cure for scurvy - pepper juice. A medical board headed by Dr. Vladan Đorđević was formed to evaluate his discovery. Dr. Nikolić-Miškovićev was underestimated and laughed at, and his discovery was completely forgotten The aim of this paper was to correct injustice done to Dr. Maksim Nikolić-Miškovićev.
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